Humorous 404 Error Message Gone Wrong

August 16, 2017 // Chris Edwards

Humor can often be fun and great to incorporate into your web design. Many web developers and web designers will have some fun with their visitors creating fun and comical error messages.

These are to lighten the mood of someone who may be frustrated that they could not find what they were looking for. These can be fun and taken well. For example, Lego’s 404 error page shows a Lego Minifigure unplugging what one could assume is the server.

However, there are times that humor might be too dark for the type of site. It is important to understand your audience and what visitors to your site may be currently experiencing. A great example is a Hospital site that I will not name to protect their brand. Their 404 page has a message that states “Looks like you flatlined” with a button that states “resuscitate yourself”.

While this would be a great 404 error page for a coffee shop, this page doesn’t work well for a hospital site. Your visitors may be visiting your site after losing a loved one, possibly at your hospital. Should they run across a missing page or file on your site, and are presented with this failed attempt at humor, you may upset your visitor.

The key is to just think about the mindset your customers may be in when they visit your website. Use humor that would be appropriate for the type of site you have. Be sure to run any attempts at humor by others in your organization, and maybe even user test some of your customers, seeking feedback.

Don’t Give Up On Humor

Please don’t let this discourage you from having some fun. We all love fun 404 error pages and the creativity behind them. Please just take this as a warning to make sure you fully think out any messages that you decide to use.

What are your thoughts on using humor in 404 pages? Did you think the above was appropriate? We would love to know down in the comments below.

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Chris Edwards

Chris is Co-Owner of Data Driven Labs and a 17-year internet marketing expert in web design & development, SEO, digital marketing, and analytics. He often speaks at conferences around the world on everything WordPress and analytics.


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